As we assess the current economic climate of double-dip recessions and soaring consumer debt, it is important to start addressing the issues that afflict consumers and businesses. In particular, it would appear that the current generation of workers and consumer spenders have a critical lack of awareness when it comes to the basic principles of economics, the social science which governs the production, distribution and demand of a specific product. With this in mind, there would be immediate benefits to teaching this subject in high school as a matter of course rather than of student choice.
TUTORIAL: Economics Basics: Introduction
Reducing Consumer Debt
Although consumer debt remained fairly steady throughout 2010, the total still stood at approximately $2,400 billion throughout the whole of the U.S. With this equating to nearly $7,800 per individual citizen of the U.S., there is now a pressing need to tackle the lack of financial knowledge so that this issue can be resolved. Teaching economics would be a long term plan to achieve this, as it would help to encourage financial awareness and responsibility amongst consumers.
While mathematics has undeniable value amongst foundation and elementary level students, a more practical application of these principles would be better suited to an advanced learning program. So students could learn about the economic elements of supply and demand, cost, and budgeting in order to develop a greater understanding of personal finance and become responsible consumers of the future. (To learn more about how to deal with personal finance, check out: Run Your Personal Finances Like A Business.)
Encouraging Students into Prosperous Job Markets
There is a worrying gap between the expectations and ambitions of students and the current employment market, and this is a global issue rather than a national one. For example, just 2.4% of surveyed teenagers in the U.K. see the environmental industry as something that interests them, and yet this is one of the significant growth industries of 2011. The financial services sector is also experiencing growth, so why not teach economics to pique students' interest and help them towards informed career decisions?
Not only does the financial services market require employees with a sound and detailed knowledge of economics, but the skills afforded by this type of education would help to equip students for the world of work and reduce unemployment forecasts and figures. While no single individual can be forced into a career against their will, it is the duty of schools and parents to educate youngsters and encourage them along the paths that will lead to viable employment opportunities.
Creating an Informed and Calm Response to Recession
Despite the omnipresent threat to the U.S. economy that is recession, consumers and businesses still have an unfortunate habit of panicking and making snap cost cutting decisions the moment that economic growth stalls. This is caused by a lack of fundamental knowledge and education on the features of economics, which causes people to develop misconceptions and ultimately hinder economic growth even further through a lack of investment in either product or services.
Teaching economics as a core high-school subject would solve this problem, as a wider base of knowledge and understanding would benefit both business owners and the public alike. While small to medium business owners would have better comprehension of their own organization and be able to react in a more measured fashion, consumers would be able to budget more efficiently and continue to invest reduced but significant sums back into a afflicted and recession hit economy. (To gain more knowledge about recession, read 4 Characteristics Of Recession - Proof Companies.)
The Bottom Line
Knowledge breeds assurance, both with regards to our own abilities and the wider set of external circumstances, so teaching economics to high-school students would create a far more prosperous economy for all. Not only this, but it would be a small but vital step towards breaking the cycle of boom and bust, and help to maintain a constant if occasionally restricted period of growth.